UFC Bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling will take on 2nd ranked contender and former champion TJ Dillashaw on October 22nd at UFC 280 in the Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi per Marcel Dorff and Yahoo Sports.
Dillashaw and Sterling have had heat between them since TJ made his return against Cory Sandhagen in 2021. He put the division on notice with a decision win and left a statement for the other contenders:
Dillashaw is the former 2-time UFC Bantamweight champion and Flyweight title challenger. His last fight was a split decision win over Cory Sandhagen in what was one of the best fights of the year. This was Dillashaw's first performance inside the octagon in over 2 years as he was returning from a suspension for taking banned performance-enhancing drugs.
He tested positive for PEDs after moving down to 125 to face Henry Cejudo for the Flyweight title. TJ explained that he needed to take them to make weight, but was finished via first-round head kick TKO nonetheless. Many do not buy that TJ only took the PEDs once to make weight, as former teammate Cody Garbrandt had accused him of taking them multiple times long before he was caught.
Aljamain Sterling's last fight was a split decision win over former champion Petr Yan at UFC 273. The fight was technically a title defense for Sterling but many fans did not view it that way due to how Sterling had won the title. The two first met at UFC 259 in March of 2021 where Yan was the Champion and Sterling the challenger. After a close 2 rounds, Yan was pulling ahead in the fight and seemed to be cruising to a finish. The fight looked especially bad for Sterling as he had failed on 16 of 17 takedown attempts, whereas he had been taken down on 7 of 7 attempts by Yan. It was near the end of the 4th though that Yan landed an illegal knee to the head of Sterling, and was stripped of his title, crowning Sterling the champion via disqualification.
Sterling would pull out of their scheduled rematch twice and in the meantime, Yan would win an interim championship against Cory Sandhagen. When they finally met at UFC 273 over a year later Sterling would perform much better and secure a decision win. This win was also not without controversy as the Verdict Community scored the fight 3 rounds to 2 for Yan. UFC president Dana White had it the same and believed that the judges 'blew it' with the decision.
If Dillashaw wins this fight he will become the first man to hold the same title 3 times in the UFC, and if Sterling wins he may find the legitimacy as a champion that he desires.